After flash flooding wreaked havoc in the Central Business District during last year’s rains, City Council – which took the blame for leaving drainage systems choked with litter – is taking pre-emptive action ahead of the coming season.
Council is conducting a storm water drain and catch-pit clearance program using both mechanical and manual methods to clear drains of rubbish and sand. Most water drains in the City have become dumpsites due to inconsistent rubbish collection by council and a lax attitude towards littering by residents, leaving water passages totally blocked.
Storm water drains are surface tunnels for draining runoff from the City’s streets. Harare’s drains are covered in the CBD and open next to roads in suburban areas.
The City’s principal customer relations officer Dorothy Mavolwane said that the drain and catch pit clearance program started in July and will run into November.
“At the moment we are doing the mechanical storm drain clearance, where we are targeting the major storm drains in Harare. We have another plan for manual clearance of storm water drains, but we are still to start because we are waiting for the funds. We need about $200,000 per month to do the manual storm water drain clearance,” explained Mavolwane.
Council has so far managed to clear several key CBD drains along Rezende Street, Albion Street, Kaguvi Street, Mbuya Nehanda Street, Harare Street, and Kenneth Kaunda Way. Residential roads cleared to date include Crowhill Road and Warren Park’s 1st Avenue up to 4th Avenue.
Mavolwane said that council is also lobbying for community participation in suburban areas where residents are responsible for the litter choking storm drains adjacent to their properties.
“Community participation is critical and we are encouraging people to clear storm water drains along their streets. Council will provide the trucks to carry away the rubbish. We also encourage people to take care of drains on their frontage, as well as to avoid depositing rubbish and sand in drains, as this causes flash flooding,” said Mavolwane.
However, Council’s efforts are being viewed by some as too little too late. Tinashe (28) from the Avenues area said that council should move more quickly if they hope to beat the rains.
“City Fathers should act while there still is time because we do not want a repeat of last rainy season’s flash floods which made the streets impassable,” said Mambo.
Another resident, Moreblessing Rukweza from Mbare, concurred, pointing out that most of the drains were now a haven for rodents such as rats, and mosquitoes – creatures which pose a health risk to residents.
“It would be logical for council to carry out the drain clearance all year round until all drains are unblocked. I believe that council should also punish those who are found dumping rubbish in the drains,” said Rukweza.